Sermon delivered August 11, 2001 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Mud Wrestling in the Jordan

II Kings 5:1-15

Today is Sixth in a series of ten sermons on Elisha.

People want to look like other people. Peer pressure isn't just a teenage thing. We all like to keep up appearances. And Naaman was the same way. Take baldness for instance. That's why we tout toupees, rub on Rogaine, or comb our sideburns over our dome in an attempt to cover our unacceptable looks. People do strange things just to keep up appearances.

Naaman was a proud man. 2 Kings 5:1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. Who gave the victory? The Lord gave the victory to this heathen commander. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

This was a shame. This is the best known of all Elisha's experiences. Naaman had ascended to the top of the military under that great Aramaen king Ben-Hadad II. Naaman was a great and mighty man. He prospered in the highest echelons of Syrian government. "BUT" ... In this world of sin there is always a BUT. But he had leprosy.

Today this would be tantamount to saying that he now had AIDS. He was incurable. Nobody could cure leprosy. It starts as a small rising or scaly spot. Then it takes over your whole body and soon you are consumed with leprosy. It's sort of like sin, isn't it. In fact, what is leprosy a symbol of? It's a symbol of sin. And he had leprosy. As soon as his condition became public, he could be an outcast. He would become hideous looking. His success would be over.

He could feel the symptoms. The symptoms were in his body. He was a commander and a commander had a big sword, sometimes they were glazed with silver, Shiny, he would hold that sword up and his troops would be motivated to go forward. When he waved his sparkling sword high over his head to motivate his troops forward, he could no longer feel its handle in his hand. His feeling was leaving him.

Now, his toops thought he was a valiant hero. His warriors watched him in battle. Sometimes Naaman would be in his chariot and an arrow maybe would rip into his leg. He just kept on fighting and they thougth this is a temendous man. He can stand the pain in a fantastic way. They didn't realize that. Actually they thought he had not fear, when the truth was he had no feeling. He would be there fighting and just keep on fighting. He'd find the arrow there when he got home, or later. He was coming down with Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) in which the nerves lose their ability to communicate feeling to the brain.

As his condition grew worse people began to find out. He knew he must have help. In Israel they did some terrible things. They quarantined lepers. In Leviticus 13:45,46, it says: "The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!' As long as he has the infection he remains unclean. He must live alone; he must live outside the camp."

I think that somehow if we could just get the feeling that leprosy represents sin, that each of us are lepers. In reality, each of us are spiritual lepers. Our righteousness, in fact, is as filthy rags in His sight. He hates leprosy. He hates sin. He loves the sinner. And if we could just have the same feeling toward sin that God does, it might really help us in life.

Naaman had this incurable ailment. And God had given him success. God had blessed Naaman. I want you to know that even God's servants get incurable diseases. Do you think you're going to be immune just because you're a pastor? Just because you're a teacher, just because you are doing God's will in your home, that you're going to be immune to bankruptcy or other things?

Naaman became desperate. When you come down with an incurable ailment you grasp at anything that might possibly give you healing. God had given him success, yet even God's servants get dreaded diseases.

How often we are more concerned about our looks or our health than we are about our salvation. How many of us have leprous hearts? We worry about external appearances when in reality, we need healing on the inside.

Look at 2 Kings 5:2,3. Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. I suppose one day these Syrian warriors had crossed the border over into Israel and they had gone down there. They were looting, they were burning, they were robbing, and they came to this one house and her was a little girl and they just kidnapped this teeager. She maybe was taken by rithless hands and carried all the way back to Syria. Never again would seh ever see her home. She was taken to this foreign country as a P.O.W., just like Daniel and Joseph. She was not taken there to cry, she was taken there to witness. And that happens. Does God prevent His people from being afflicted? Not always. But God is always with His children in their affliction. He always is.

But, like Joseph, God intended her abduction to be for His kingdom and for its advancement. She became a powerful witness to the True God. This young unknown Hebrew girl Genesis 50:20. There in that heathen land she became a powerful witness for the true God. This young unnamed Hebrew maid turned the other cheek. She did not attack her cruel captors, but became an instrument of blessing to them. She never lost her faith in God. Her early training by Godly parents paid off. She didn't lose it.

Has God allowed you to be placed in a bad environment? Perhaps a bad neighbor lives next door, or you struggle with a contentious roommate, or maybe you are forced to associate with an obnoxious person at work. Whatever your situation, remember this little teenage girl is your example. She became a blessing to her obnoxious captors.

It is incredible that Naaman and his wife even listened to the little kitchen maid at all. One day she came up, she said, "You know, I inow that if you go back to the prophet in Samaria you'll be healed." You know what they did? They listened to a little child.* Most would pat her on the head and say "little girl, what do you know about anything. Thanks, but no thanks." She must have learned their language and gained their trust. She knew Elisha and believed in God.

Often a simple sincere testimony will change somebody's destiny! See how Naaman actually listened to her. See how God worked at both ends as she shared her faith. God gave her the right message and God opened the heart of its recipient to act on its significance.

Jesus mentioned the influence of the little captive Luke 4:27. "And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian."

This powerful five star general listened to the little maid and he believed. She had never lied before. Her life was extraordinary. Never think that your witness is insignificant.

Did heathen Naaman deserve God s mercy? Are God s blessings reserved for Christians only? No. He is interested in every fallen soul. New Testament Jews thought God s favors were limited to the Israelites only. This pride made them exceedingly haughty. God's rain falls on the just and the unjust.

This little maid could have thought: I am suffering. Now it is his turn. Finally he is going to get what he deserves. True Christians are not vindictive. Jesus said-Luke 6:29 "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." Instead of complaining about her bad luck this little maid became interested in her captors welfare.

Naaman almost missed his miracle. He didn't pay very close attention to the little maid. He was sent to Elisha which means the salvation of God. But instead he went to the king. So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 2 Kings 5:6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: "With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy."

Kings can build freeways and bridges, but they can't cure leprosy. We do not go to the government for our religion. He was told to go to Elisha. Godly authority is not found in the newspaper or religious materials or TV preachers, but in the Word of God. The Prophets wrote in the Scriptures and there is where we must turn for help.

2 Kings 5:7. As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, "Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!"

The king thought that Syria was trying to stir up trouble! Had the King prayed he would not have been a worry wort. Actually one of the greatest stories in the Bible was in the process of happening and he thought it was a bad day. He should have dropped to his knees and spread the letter before the Lord. Trust would have replaced terror.

Check out the great contrast between the little maid and Israel s great king. She thought about her master's well-being while the king thought only of his troubles.

Fortunately Elisha got wind of Naaman's rejection by the king and came to the rescue. That is just like God. We do things backward and God straightens out our mistakes and makes them still work out for our ultimate good.

2 Kings 5:9. So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house." Imagine the impressive entourage arriving at the humble home of the prophet. Embellished Chariots decorated with war trophies pulled by champion horses. Elisha did not personally appear. He sent a messenger. He wanted God to get the glory! Let Jesus get the center of attention when you do something big.

Equate this with today's TV "Faith Healers" who parade before the camera on their fancy stages. They coerce their clients into giving big money. Most TV healers are affluent and live in luxury. Elisha was a humble servant of God.

Naaman thought he could buy salvation. He was prepared to pay handsomely. Almost $100,000 in gold, silver and expensive clothing were offered. But all the money in the world can t heal our leprosy or forgive our sin. Can God s gifts be bought with money? Or with good works? No!

Verse 10 - Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." God's answers are uncomplicated and simple. This was do-able. Easy and quick.

But Naaman was mortified. Imagine taking a prolonged public plunge in a foreign river. Imagine thinking that if I dip into that dirty muddy polluted water I will come up clean. No way! Absurd! And he couldn't even argue because Elisha wouldn't come out the door. How would you feel if you were told to go jump in the river? Actually what we sinners really do need is to jump into the middle of that dark red river of blood that flows from Calvary s stream.

Naaman had thought it would be different. But Isaiah 55:8 "God says my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." To be told to dip in the muddy Jordan was not what he expected. But part of his cure was to be willing to do whatever God wanted even if it was unique. He must see that only God s power can heal.

Naaman went off in a huff. He had imagined that the man of God would at least have the courtesy to come out of his house and wave his hand over the bad spot and it would be healed. Why dip in the muddy Jordan? Why not the fine clean crystal clear rivers in Syria? Do the rivers of the world seem to surpass what Jesus offers?

Naaman's knowledge of history told him that no one had ever been healed in that river. The water there couldn t cure leprosy. If it could, all lepers would go there. He left in a rage. He would have to journey 25 more miles to that old muddy river. Was Naaman right that the water in the rivers of his homeland were better than the muddy Jordan? Naaman was right except for one thing: God said "the JORDAN river."

Now God is particular. If God says take a dip in the Jordan, you had better go. If God says take a trip to the Cross, you had better go. When God says if you want a blessing, worship on the seventh day of the week, (Saturday), you had better do it. Does God mean that some other day would be just as good? NO. God is particular.

So Naaman left in a huff. 2 Kings 5:13. Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!"

Fortunately Naaman had surrounded himself with quality servants. Choose your friends wisely. Good colleagues make your success more likely. Naaman was healed because he listened to good advise. How he must have wrestled with the idea. They convinced him to get off his high horse and dip himself in the muddy stream.

2 Kings 5:14. So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

Would Naaman have been cured if he had dipped six times? Christians must follow God exactly. After the sixth dip the leprosy was just as bad as before. The currant was slow and with each dip the water became more murky. He must have thought, this is not working. But as he came up out of the water the seventh time, he was totally clean. Don't give up in the middle of your miracle. He was a new man. How he must have jumped for joy and splashed and shouted there in that muddy place. The Jordan suddenly became his favorite river. What beautiful mud!

What ever happened to Naaman? He went home completely clean and totally happy. His wife ran to see her brand new husband. His face must have shown. How he must have hugged and thanked the little slave girl. She led him to God. Even a child can lead someone to Jesus.

He vowed never to bow in worship to any other god. He hauled some soil back home in order to have a place up in Damascus to kneel before the true God. He still loved his king and wanted Elisha to know that when his official duties required him to enter the heathen temple of Rimmon that he would not be there in worship but merely to assist his master.

Naaman returned to Elisha to pay for the services but Elisha refused his gifts. All this was so different from the way things were done in Syria. God's free grace to him changed his life. You can't earn forgiveness.

Leprosy is a symbol of SIN. Each of us stand in the same need as Naaman. Naaman could not save himself. From the greatest leaders to the poorest outcast, we all stand in the need of salvation from sin. Naaman was a good man. But even respected folk are in need of salvation from sin. From the pauper to the millionaire, we are all saved the same way, by trusting in Jesus.

When we do what God asks, God cures us. Naaman was clean on the outside and changed on the inside. He submitted his life to God and was made whole.

    Notice the steps to Salvation:
  1. We must see that we are in great need. Sin, like leprosy, lurks in us without our knowledge.
  2. We must believe that God can help us. Naaman believed the little girl who let her light shine so brightly.
  3. We must act on our faith by coming to God.
  4. We must be baptized to be saved.
  5. We must put away anything that might harm our relationship with God.
  6. We will lovingly give our all to Jesus. When he laid his riches at Elisha's feet he was giving God all he had.

Jesus says: John 3:5. "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

Peter says: Acts 2:38. "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."

Just like Naaman we must dip in the water. Have you been baptized? It might not be what you expected. You might wonder how water could save you. But a faithful Christian will do as God says and will be clean on the inside and outside.

Friend, Jesus is the only source of life. Acts 4:12. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Come to Jesus. Believe in Jesus. Immerse yourself totally in Jesus. He is the water of life. You will be changed. Follow Jesus. Jesus will lead you home.

Bulletin for the Church Service

Hymn of Praise: #620, On Jordan's Stormy Banks
Scripture: 2 Kings 5:13,14
Hymn of Response: #518, Standing on the Promises


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